Archimandrite Zacharias on War

This week someone emailed me with the subject line “Let’s debate Russia.” In the body of the email he said, “I support Russia. Let’s set up a show about this.” It wasn’t clear why I received this invitation to debate, but I presume it was a response to last month’s blog post, “The Ukrainian Invasion and the Problem of Binary Thinking.”

In my reply declining to debate, I shared the following words from Archimandrite Zacharias of Essex, whom I had the honor of meeting when I visited the Monastery of St John the Baptist in 2015. As the demons try to entice all of us to to enter into the chaos, Fr. Zacharias’s words offer a word of caution:

“We do not know everything about the conflicts of this world, nor is it necessary to know.  We just pray with a compassionate heart for the peace of the world and for all. We do not take sides, because each side will be responsible for crimes, and we do not want to share in these crimes and be condemned.

If we pray for those who are more wrong than right, well, we perform the commandment to love even enemies. And if we pray for those who are more right than wrong, we do well. Therefore, we cannot go wrong if we pray that God save all and grant peace to the world.

Especially for us, priests and monks, it is very important not to be political at all, because we offer our sacrifice to God, the Holy Liturgy, for the whole world; and if we are for some and against others, our sacrifice is annulled. I think that when there is a war, the best is not to be judgmental, but to have compassion and pray that the Lord may spare all from suffering.

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If my Liturgy is to have any value, no one should be missing from my heart when I stand before the altar of God and say to Him, ‘Thine own of Thine own, we offer unto Thee, in all and for all.”


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